Thursday, March 26, 2015

Great Patience

Hey guys,

My other post was getting too long and I had some other things I wanted to tell you about, so here's a separate post.

My study with Edwin has been getting better and better. I see him & the kids in the neighborhood very often, and the kids always ask me when the next meeting will be. Edgar & Bruno, the two oldest (well, technically the third & fourth, but the two oldest kids are adults and I never see them), always fight over who gets to comment. All of them have loved getting to know my friends as well and always ask about them. This past Saturday meeting was interesting. Edwin had to bring Bayardo, the youngest child, with them. He's cute, I'll give him that, but I'm gonna be real, guys: I clash with this kid. Seriously! He is always getting into my stuff and anytime I tell him no, he says "Yes!" and then it turns into a very heated and mature No!-Yes!-No!-Yes! exchange.
From left to right: Roman, Edgar, Bruno, Bayardo (my BFF), & Catherine.
Again, it's the heat, bros. Anyway, so Bayardo came with Edwin to the meeting and starting whining during the last half-hour. I thought it was because his arm hurt (He fractured it recently and it's in a cast), but Edwin just said, "No, he says he's bored and wants to go home." Okay, kid, no sympathy here. We were studying The Watchtower about having a good marriage, and Edwin was really enjoying it. However, when Bayardo was whining more and more, even Edwin said to me, "This is the work of Satan. He knows that I'm loving this article and that it's just what I need, so he's using my child to get me to leave the meeting!" All I could say was, "Right?!" Go ahead, guys. Tell me that I need to be nicer to kids.

Yesterday, Edwin & I went over the first in the series of worksheets that go with the Bible Teach book. I wasn't sure how it would go over, but it was so effective! It was probably our best conversation to date. I love how the sheets help the students make personal application and meditate on why they believe what they believe. When we went over the scenarios about someone asking you to explain your beliefs about human suffering, we chose two scriptures that we could share: James 1:13 and 1 John 4:8. I suggested to him that it would be good to memorize those scriptures, or at least their locations. Bruno ran inside and got their Bible so he could find it himself. My friend Ashley lent Catherine her Bible so she could find it as well. Just as I was about to explain how the scriptures were organized, (the bold numbers, verse numbers, etc.) Edwin stepped in and did it for me! It was a really, really cool moment.

As Bruno read the scripture, Edwin's face was beaming. Whenever one of the kids comments at the one of the meetings, he gets really nervous as the brother brings the microphone to them. After it's done, he proudly says, "This is the best thing for my kids!"
That is the face of a proud father! Edwin's, not Bayardo's.

While these kids are seriously high-maintenance, studying with this family has been a very rewarding experience. Yes, even with Bayardo...*cringes*. Although Edwin has been making good progress, I'm keeping my expectations reasonable. No matter what happens, though, I'll always enjoy the memories I'm making studying with this family. Sidenote: I'm great with kids.

Take care,


Right Down the Middle

Hi there!

The most productive thing I've done as of late, and even then...
If you're wondering why it's been a while since my last post (and I realize that's a big "if"), it's because the rising heat has been affecting my productivity. For reals, though, we're in March, the second hottest month of the year in Nica, and the heat is getting to our heads. I was going through a number of things I've done these past couple weeks that prove that point, including skipping breakfast, arguing with the neighborhood kids about mangoes, and not caring about wearing dirty clothes. Actually, now that I'm listing those things, I'm realizing that I do of all them on a regular basis anyway.

ANYWHO, almost everyone we know has been getting sick lately, and the Roberts household has not been exempt from it. Bree got a parasite, Ben got a weird infection in his foot, and I lost my voice last week. All of us are doing much better now, although it wasn't easy. Seriously, of all people to not be able able to talk, why me? I hated not being able to shout! I never realized how much I do was a rough week.

We've been up to quite a bit these past couple weeks, so I'll do my best to be concise. HA, that's such a lie. If I wanted to be concise, I'd erase the previous two paragraphs.

With some of our friends from Ojo de Agua.
With my good friends Yorleni and Ervin.
Zach took off last week, and some of the brothers from Ojo got together to have a going-away lunch for him. They didn't get a chance to have one for me when I left, so they made it a dual send-off for both me and him. It was really nice to visit with my old friends there. Being in La Norte has been just what I needed, but I would never trade the memories and experiences I had in Ojo for anything.

Elvis fetching us some mangoes.
I'm sorry, can I just get back to the weather for one second? It has been really hot, but not as bad the last March I was here for, and the good thing is that it's mango season! The mangoes here are so good I wrote a whole post about them. There are mangoes almost everywhere you look. Elvis has a mango tree right in his courtyard and he's given us three bags of them just this week. Eating them has proven to be a challenge since they don't last long. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy eating fourteen mangoes in one sitting as much as the next guy, but it's still not easy. At any rate, having these awesome mangoes has been a great way to counteract the heat!
A couple girls dealing with the heat.

Like everyone else, we've been plenty busy with the Memorial campaign. We're confident that a few of our studies will be coming and we've been having some really good experiences as well. I spoke to a man in our territory who invited me in and had some questions. We've talked with him on a number of occasions, but he doesn't have an interest in studying as of yet. However, this conversation was very interesting. While discussing the invitation, I mentioned how many people are familiar with John 3:16 and how the Memorial ceremony explains the details of that scripture. He told me he had never heard of that scripture in his life, and that shocked me. People here quote it all the time! Then he said, "Well, I may have read it before, but I don't remember. Let me check my notebook." He then proceeded to grab a notebook off his bookshelf, and its contents were surprising. He reads his own Bible very often, and whenever he comes across a scripture that captures his attention, he writes it down in that notebook. He even organizes each scripture by category! We looked through the entire notebook, which was nearly full, and out of all the scriptures he had written down, he had never written down John 3:16! He was very surprised and he loved the scripture, so we proceeded to write it down in the notebook. While he still isn't ready to accept a regular study, he really enjoyed our conversation and is very much looking forward to the Memorial.

Sidenote: It was HOT.
This past Sunday, we took another congregation trip to preach in Rancherias, a rural congregation outside of town. We rented a good ol' school bus and overfilled it once again, with over 70 brothers & sisters in our group. Preaching in the rurals is always very relaxing. The people are so friendly and receive us very well. At the end of the morning, we came upon three brothers, all in their late 20s & who all looked so alike they could've been triplets, and had a great conversation with them. We considered the "Bible Questions Answered" article on the back page of The Watchtower this month about why we should remember Jesus' death. They really enjoyed the scriptures we shared with them. At the end, one of them requested a copy of The New World Translation. Since we weren't able to give him one right then and there, we told him that he would be able to obtain one at the Kingdom the Memorial! He immediately said, "I'll be there!"

Me with my buddy Reinaldito.
After a working a lot of territory, we made our way to the local Kingdom Hall to have lunch. Because Ben, Bree, & I were all rushing to get ready that morning, we didn't really have time to pack much food, and neither did Amy & Ashley. Then, Maria, a very sweet sister in our hall, came up to me and gave me a huge Tupperware container full of chicken, rice, fried plantains, and veggies that she had prepared just in case someone didn't bring a lunch! There was more than enough for all of us. It was hands-down one of the nicest things someone has ever done for us. Days like this are always very encouraging for the congregation. Everybody looks forward to them and it gives the brothers just the boost they need. I think it's one of the best ways for a congregation to bond.

Bree entertaining the kids during lunch. Having lunch together in the hall as a congregation felt like being at a convention!
After lunch, we worked some more territory with a nice view of San Cristobal in the background. Sidenote: Rancherias is MUCH closer to that volcano, which probably explains why the territory is so hot and dusty. Seriously, bros, the pants I wore that day started off green, but when we got home, I honestly couldn't tell what color they were. Gray? Beige?

The Kingdom Hall + volcano view
During the afternoon, I worked with Salomon, an eight-year-old kid who has recently starting doing his own doors and is very excited about excited that he wouldn't let me do any. That's fine with me, bro, but if you wanna do all the doors, you're gonna do all the doors. We came upon a house and found a girl who was also eight-years-old. When she told Salomon that her parents weren't home and it was just her, instead of asking me what to do, Salomon continued with his presentation anyway. So yes, an eight-year-old asked another eight-year-old, "How do you view the Bible? Do you view it as a book of myths and legends, a book of human wisdom, or the word of God?" and then they both stood in silence, staring off into the distance, each one wondering if the other person even understood the question, waiting for the other to say something to break the ice, but neither ever would. Also, the silence was long enough for me to take a picture.
" we are. Just two kids attempting to talk about something other than juice. Speaking of which, you wanna get a juice box after this? I'm not gonna lie, I'd totally be up for that but I'm just not sure if you want to as well."
Me with the Cáceres family on the bus.
That day is gonna be one for the books because things are going to be changing here very soon. We've received word that they will officially be splitting our congregation! It will take effect in May, at the latest. While it's a really good thing and it shows that there is still a lot of growth here, it is very bittersweet, since being in this congregation has been such a blessing for us. No one is 100% sure on all the details just yet, but the good thing is that we'll now be able to share our five elders. Actually, Erling just told me the other night that our C.O. asked him and Rebecca to transfer to the Acomen congregation in the center of town starting next week. They were my first friends in this congregation, so yeah, I'm sad about that! However, I'm realizing more and more that everything serves its purpose for its time, and change is good.

Just a small portion of our group from that day!
Pase lo que pase, I know that things will work out well wherever I end up. I'll keep everyone posted, as long as I'm not being consumed by dust and mangoes.

Talk soon,


Monday, March 9, 2015

Dust So You Know

Hi there!

Sorry for the delay. If any of you were wondering where I was, I was buried under enough dust to fill up an Olympic swimming pool. Not really exaggerating either! Okay, well obviously I'm exaggerating a little, but for real, yesterday brought the biggest dust storm anyone in Chinandega and León had seen in years, which just figures since I only decided like three days ago to get on this new kick of, "I'm gonna start sweeping my porch every day!" and then this happens:

This picture is from a news report about the storm:
Seriously? Can I just win for once?! León got hit a lot worse than here in Chinandega, but it was still pretty bad, guys. Everything in our house is about five shades darker than it was before. The keyboard that I'm typing this post on STILL has dust on it!!!

Behold: the fish. It's there. Look closer.
And that's pretty much the most eventful thing that's happened here these days. No, there's been plenty of good stuff going on. Last Sunday, I went to Jiquilillo (he-kee-lee-yo), a congregation on the coast of Chinandega, to give the public talk. That involved a two-hour insanely full bus ride where my friends and I had to stand about 80% of the time. Seriously bros, that was easily one of the top three worst bus rides I've ever taken here, if not the worst. I'm not gonna lie - all I could think was, "I haven't had a day where I really wished I was home in a very long time, probably over a year, but this is one of those days." But then I realized that if it had been that long since I'd had a day like that, then that shows how great things have been going this past year, since I used to have them all the time! And people say I'm not positive.

Once we got to Jiquilillo, I knew what I was gonna have to face: fish. The congregation there always feeds the speaker a big fish meal. It's really, really, really nice of them BUT I'm not a fish fan, and I'm sorry, but hey, God did give us taste buds and I like to use mine! I knew that a lot of work had gone into it, so although it took about a full half-hour, I ate it, and I'm glad that I did. Not saying that I'll do it again!

Now, let's take a moment to tip our hats off to the brothers in Jiquilillo. They have their meeting at 1:00 in the afternoon outdoors with no fans and are even doing that during this time of year when the temperature is officially over 100 degrees (F) from now until at least May. We Mainers may have to contend with the snow, but at least we have Kingdom Halls with heating systems! To this day, it still astounds me how tough these brothers are. I may have rushed through my talk a little bit because I was about to pass out if I didn't sit down. Thankfully, a sister from Chinandega who lives out there on the weekends gave a bunch of us a ride back to town in her air-conditioned truck. It was worlds better than taking another bus.
Me most likely telling Marlon to stop
asking why I use that color highlighter and
just read the paragraph.

I know I'm sound like a broken record by this point, but service has been going awesome has been going awesome has been going awesome. I say that because it's true! Ben and Bree have been having some really good experiences and studies, but I'll let them post about that on their blog:

Amy with Bastie, her bestie.
Edwin and his kids have been coming to all the weekend meetings. The kids, especially Bruno, love commenting and getting involved during the Watchtower. They're coming to their first mid-week meeting tomorrow! Very exciting times.

I did my study with Erling on Friday and was so excited to see that he had underlined the whole lesson ahead of time! He's a really nice guy and has been getting better with each passing week. I'm really hoping he'll come to the Memorial. It should be easy since the location where we're having ours is a block away from his house. Actually, three of my studies live a block away from the Memorial location, so it's my goal that all of them attend!

Caleb time.
I'm still studying with Marlon, the ten-year-old in the park. He loves the book and asks a lot of questions. Like, a lot of questions. He may have the attention span of a chicken, but he's a good kid, as well as his sister, Bastie. Man, has she got spunk! A couple of weeks ago, my friends Amy and Ashley, both from England, accompanied me on the study. They've both visited Chinandega before and are staying here for a few months now, attending our congregation. They are both hilarious and a lot of fun. What was I talking about? Oh yes, they came with me on the study and were gracious enough to watch Caleb videos with Bastie while I studied with Marlon. While Amy was showing her a video, one of their friends in the park came up and started watching, too. It ended with all of us watching one of the videos together. Dealing with kids may not be my strong suit, but it has been fun studying with them.

Also, a group of us spent the night at the Kingdom Hall on Friday working security and printing off our Memorial invitations until 3:30 in the morning. It may have thrown off my sleeping patterns for a couple weeks since I had to work at 5:30 that same morning, but it was still a lot of fun.

Got everything we need to print invitations, including toilet paper.
Trying to think if there's anything else...there probably is but I've gotta bounce since I have friends coming over any minute. Thanks for reading, talk to you all next Monday!

Take care,